US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has said Saturday that the US military believes that an unarmed American drone reported lost near Libya's capital last month has been shot down by Russian air defenses, demanding the return of the aircraft's wreckage.
US Army General Stephen Townsend, who leads Africa command, told Reuters he believed the operators of the air defenses at the time "didn't know it was a US remotely piloted aircraft when they fired on it, adding that they certainly know who it belongs to now and they are refusing to return it.
Meanwhile, Africa Command spokesman, Air Force Colonel Christopher Karns, said US assessment, which has not been previously disclosed, concludes that either Russian private military contractors or Haftar's forces were operating the air defenses at the time the drone was reported lost on November 21.
Karns said the United States believed the air defense operators fired on the U.S. aircraft after "mistaking it for an opposition" drone.
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a presser with his Italian counterpart Luigi di Maio that the US allegations about his country's military involvement in Libya are rumors.
Lavrov said Russia has a responsible policy toward Libya and it cares for Libyans all across the country without taking sides in the ongoing fighting.